NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Evalach, Evelac, Evelake, Magdrains, Mogdains, Mondrames, Mordrain de Sarras, Mordrains, Mordrayns, Mordrayous

The baptismal name of Evalach, the King of Sarras converted by Joseph of Arimathea in the Vulgate Cycle.

Born in the French city of Meaux, Mordrain, as a youth, took service with Emperor Augustus Caesar of Rome, who put him in the charge of Count Felix of Syria. He killed one of Felix’s sons during a quarrel and fled to King Tholomer of Babylonia, with whom he remained until he became King of Sarras.

He married Queen Sarrassinte of Sarras. His lands bordered on Tholomer’s, and tensions between the two eventually escalated into war. Joseph of Arimathea and his party arrived during the hostilites, and Mordrain’s conversion to Christianity allowed him to win the conflict. Joseph also reconciled him with Seraphe, Mordrain’s estranged brother-in-law, who upon conversion became known as Nascien.

After Mordrain’s conversion, God tested him by placing him on the Rock of the Perilous Port for several days, but Mordrain’s faith did not waver. Joseph and his followers departed for Britain, and some time later, Mordrain had a vision in which he saw Joseph imprisoned there by the pagan King Crudel. Leaving Sarras, he journeyed to Britain with his soldiers and freed Joseph. According to a Middle English romance, he married Labell, the daughter of Crudel.

Despite a warning voice, Mordrain, during a mass, approached the Holy Grail and, not being quite good enough, was struck blind and paralyzed for the attempt to see the Grail. He asked God to keep him alive until he could meet Galahad. A voice, heard only by Mordrain, Nascien, Joseph, and Josephe, promised him this favor, adding that he would be healed when Galahad visited him. He waited several centures, praying in a monastery in Britain, for Galahad to come. Upon being healed at last by Galahad, Mordrain enjoyed a holy death in his arms. (He seems to be a duplicate, in this sense, of the Maimed King, and the Livre d’Artus specifically calls him by this title.)

J.D. Bruce notes that the only other appearance of the name Mordrain is as the name of an abbot who presided over the Benedictine monastery of Corbie in Picardy in the late eighth century, leading him, among other things, to conclude that the author of the Vulgate Queste was a monk in Corbie.

See also
Abbey of King Mordrains | The Legend of King Arthur
Flegentine | The Legend of King Arthur
Sarrasinte | The Legend of King Arthur

Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1215-1230
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century
Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1230-1240
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Here Begynneth the Lyfe of Joseph of Armathia with a Praysing to Joseph | 1520